powerful researchWhat prevents business owners from using research is usually a case of misplaced ego.

Most business owners are entrepreneurs or small businesses.

They tend to hold strong opinions (from experience or not) of what will or won’t work.

Many are not in the habit of looking outward for answers and prefer to think they know best.

Ask yourself these questions, the next time you’re likely to go it alone:

1) If I’m wrong, how much will it cost me?

2) How long can I afford to be wrong before I run out of money?

3) Have I asked for input from my customers or prospects that have no stake in whether I succeed or fail?

4) Have I asked my customers and prospects what they need and want from me and my business?

5) Do I know if my customers think I’m giving them what they need and want?

6) Do I know what else I can provide my customers so that they’ll pay me more…and be happier about it?

7) Do my customers and prospects know the benefits of buying from me?

8) Do I know with certainty why my prospects go to a competitor rather than me?

Now, open your mind. 

Remember, you aren’t in it alone and it needn’t cost you a fortune to tap into the best advice you’ll ever get.

Start listening to your customers, clients, patients and prospects.

At least once a week ask yourself this question.

Can you stand to know your  customers, clients, patients or prospects might be smarter than you in helping you grow your business?

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Ask WhyHow often has this question been asked by you, your boss, your sales manager, or someone else?

The only one who really knows the answer is your former client.

So, why don’t you ask this person why s/he no longer buys from your company? You might get lucky and find a client who is prepared to talk, but keep in mind that s/he has moved on and may not want to talk to you.

Also, your customer probably will give you only one reason, then thank you for your efforts and wish you well.

How much have you learned? Not much at all.

Recently, I lost a client for whom I had created a suc­cessful direct-mail campaign. This marketing effort had produced a nice 1,148.85% Return on Investment (ROI).

Later, I found out from my client she was upset with the slow response that she was getting from me regarding a marketing questionnaire for which she had paid. After answering the questions, my client wanted her market­ing analysis, but we just couldn’t seem to find a mutually convenient time to get together.

Ultimately, I gave her a refund on the questionnaire and we parted friends.

However, to this day I feel that there had to be some­thing more. Maybe there was a hidden “decision-maker,” someone else who had a final say about who my client does business with or who harbored some ill feeling. I felt very bad when I lost my client because I was hoping that there would be a long and profitable relationship for both of us.

Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the definite reason why someone chooses to stop giving you his/her busi­ness.

It can be hard to determine what complaints s/he had about you that led to the decision. Oftentimes, you are left with very little information. Working backwards to discover what went wrong can be very difficult.

However, if you are prepared to ask a new client for a lit­tle time after the first sale or, even better, after s/he has been buying from you for awhile, then you probably can determine the things that keep him or her coming back and buying from you.

After the relationship with your client gets past the new phase and is “long-term,” ask him/her why you get his/her business. There will be many reasons, not just one or two. You may have to probe a little, so ask some open-ended questions. I’m sure that it will be worth it.

Build a file or a database of the answers that you get—the reasons why your clients came to you, of course, but also (if possible) the reasons that they stopped using your competition.

Learn from their answers and discover what you can do to prevent clients from going somewhere else. You can benefit by using what you have learned with your next prospect. This information will help you to convert him or her into a new client.

What are you willing to ask your clients about?


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